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Lucas Fink

How to Study for the SAT: Your One Month Study Plan

How to study for the SAT in one month-magoosh

If you’re taking the SAT, you obviously want the highest score you can get in the time you have available. You’re going to wow all those colleges with scores that represent your very best effort. But what if the SAT is in a month and you haven’t really started studying? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

Unless it’s summer right now, you will have to balance SAT prep with schoolwork, and that’s not easy to do. But look at it this way: in four weeks, you’re going to make a significant difference in the strength of your college application. Are there many other ways you can spend four weeks that will make such a positive impact on your admissions chances? Probably not.

The SAT is about taking practice tests to hone your performance as well as learning stress strategies and lots of fundamentals, from math to reading. With that in mind, we’ve devised an SAT Study Schedule that will help you not only become a better test taker, but also develop strong skills in reading, English (termed “writing” on the SAT) and math.

Table of Contents

How this Study Schedule is Organized

This schedule is broken up in sections, guiding you through SAT prep on a near-daily basis. The intention is not for you to knock everything out in one sitting. Rather, you should spread the prep out over the week, studying in 20- to 90-minute chunks (practice test days will take longer).

You should not feel that you always have to study math and verbal separately. While the study schedule breaks up math and verbal into separate sections, this is for convenience’s sake so that it is easier for you to navigate. In fact, you should make sure that some study sessions contain a mixture of the two. It’s good to get in the habit of having your brain switch back and forth between math and verbal, the way it will have to operate on the real test.

The plan is also broken up between “review” and “practice”. Again, you’ll want to do a little of both. That practice doesn’t always have to relate directly to what you’ve just reviewed (that’s why we’ve assigned you Magoosh prep questions without many filters by subtopic). This way, you’ll be ready for the random assortment of questions the test throws at you. For example, you might spend one day reviewing geometry lessons, but your practice questions will pull from multiple areas of math.

One last thing: if you can’t finish everything in the first week, don’t despair. You can move on to the following week without having completed all the work. Do as much as you can for a given day. If you have limited time, don’t try to finish all of one task. Move on to another assignment for the day.

For instance, if the day calls for 25 math questions and 20 reading questions, do half of both. Basically, we’re providing you materials for the maximum amount of practice that can be helpful in a one-week period – but doing less will still help you! Falling a bit short won’t hurt you. In fact, you can always revisit previous weeks later on — that’s a good way of reviewing.

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Materials & Resources

Magoosh SAT Prep

That’s us! Our SAT Prep includes lessons and questions that you will work through, thereby increasing your SAT efficiency.

You can also study with us on your phone. Our SAT Test Prep App makes studying on the go easy for both iPhone and Android users.

Magoosh High School Blog

An invaluable (and free!) resource. If you want extra help on a section or general advice, you can search for posts relating to the SAT. This section of the blog is completely dedicated to up-to-date information on the SAT.

*The Official SAT Study Guide (2020 Edition) – OG, or Official Guide, will be the shorthand used in this schedule

ISBN-13: 978-1457304309
ISBN-10: 1457304309
This is the SAT bible–questions created by the writers of the test (the College Board). You’ll have plenty of practice tests and content to give you a sense of the actual difficulty and complexity of the test (it’s more difficult than the content found in the other books). Find the 2020 version on Amazon or check out the Kindle version.

Important note: You may use other editions of the Official Guide, just make sure the title of the chapter matches the instructions given.

We also have Official SAT Study Guide video explanations to the College Board questions. Check them out!

Magoosh SAT eBook: Complete Guide to the SAT (free download)

An overview of the SAT with many helpful examples, the free Complete Guide to the SAT eBook is a great resource for understanding how the test is designed, and the fundamentals you’ll need to know to answer questions.

Official SAT Practice by College Board + Khan Academy

This is a free resource offered in conjunction with the College Board, which is the company that designs the SAT. Perhaps the best part of the College Board/Khan Academy partnership is that it brings us practice materials that are completely free. These free materials include the same practice tests offered in The Official SAT Study Guide. The Official Guide does have lots of practice material offered in the first half of the book, which will be used in the study schedule. So make sure you get that book, too.

Here is a direct link to the free practice tests. You can either download pdf’s or take them online through Khan Academy. Both options are contained in the link.

Supplemental Reading

As mentioned, doing well on the SAT isn’t just about cracking open an SAT prep book and practicing. You’ll also want to do extra reading. As part of your SAT study plan, you should expose yourself to the types of ideas and syntax that might appear in an SAT article.

The following articles come from The New Yorker and The New York Times. The articles below give you a taste for the length and tone of the pieces you should be reading. It is best to stick with the Science & Tech and Business sections of The New Yorker since they best mirror the kinds of passages that you’ll see on the test.

Improve your SAT score; start your Magoosh SAT prep today

For the first few weeks, we’ve provided you with enough reading. After that, you’ll have to hunt the passages down yourself. (Just google “new york times business”, for instance, to get you to that section.)

The New Yorker

The New York Times

One other resource is The Electric Typewriter. This website has pooled excellent writing from many sources (including the two above) and broken them down into easy to navigate categories. If you are struggling to find reading from The New Yorker or The New York Times, I highly recommend this website. Here are some articles that might be interesting:

When you read these articles, you should be in a quiet place. You shouldn’t just be skimming to finish the articles because you won’t improve that way. Instead, force yourself (yes, it won’t be easy at first) to come up with a quick mental summary of each piece.

Your summary might say something like:
The article talks about the power of ancient tsunamis to dramatically alter the landscape and that scientists can’t determine if these big waves have global implications the way volcanos or global warming does.

If you struggle to come up with a mental summary, write or type a quick one the way I just did.

Your reading list is not complete yet! The pre-20th century passages, those typically taken from British novelists and essayists long dead, will be an unavoidable fixture of the SAT reading section. At least one of the passages will force you to grapple with English as it was written over 100 years ago. Like most things, you need exposure and practice to improve.

Since it is difficult to read this stuff even when it is assigned reading at school, I’ve chosen entertaining novels, or at least as entertaining as pre-20th literature could be. I recommend spending the next month reading one of these works. Frankenstein is relatively short, so it might make for the best reading if you don’t mind Gothic horror.

Mary Shelley

Edgar Allan Poe

Additional Works

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The SAT One Month Study Schedule

A quick note: to make this plan as easy as possible to navigate, we have hidden the content of each day, so that you can see it when you’re ready for it. Just click on a given day to see the corresponding tasks and click the heading again to hide them when you’re done!

Week 1

Day 1

Math

  • Magoosh SAT eBook: Read Intro
  • Magoosh SAT Test Prep Lessons: Watch Arithmetic and Fractions (any five videos*)
  • Magoosh SAT Test Prep Questions: In Magoosh, select the box for “Algebra” and complete five questions. Reach out to our help team if you get stumped. The help button is displayed on all pages in your course.

*The videos should be of your own choosing. All of us have different skill sets, areas where we thrive and areas where we are not quite as good. You know yourself best. These are all fundamental videos, so if you find you already know all the information, use that time to finish the writing and reading components of the study schedule.

Writing

  • Magoosh SAT eBook: Read Intro
  • Official SAT Study Guide (OG): Immediately after reading the eBook, go to Chapter 13 of the Official SAT Study Guide (Sample Writing and Language Test Questions) and turn to the first sample passage and complete the 11 associated prompts. Cover up the answers that come right after each question, otherwise you are wasting your time.

 

Day 2

Math

  • eBook: Read Ratio, Proportion, Units, and Percentage
  • Lessons: Go to the “Percents and Ratios”* section of Math lessons and watch the first five videos. Listen at 1.25 speed when necessary, or even skip parts. You don’t get extra points for slogging through the whole video.)
  • OG: After watching the lessons, see if you can answer questions 1-5 in Chapter 17 (Problem Solving and Data Analysis).

*When watching the videos, remember that you won’t learn just by watching the instructor. Always pause the video and attempt any question that comes up.

Reading

  • Lessons: Watch first three videos
  • OG: Turn to the first sample passage in Chapter 9 (Sample Reading Test Questions). Answer the associated questions.
  • Article reading: Stone’s Throw

 

Day 3

Math

  • Day off, BUT review anything from the first two days that you weren’t confident in.

Writing

  • eBook: Read Standard English Conventions and start Sentence Structure (up to the end of “Parallel Structure”)
  • OG: Turn to Sample Passage 2 of Chapter 13 (Sample Writing and Language Test Questions) and answer the associated questions.

Reading

  • Questions: In Magoosh, do one complete passage (one “task” will give you 10 or 11 questions).

 

Day 4

Math

  • eBook: Read Heart of Algebra
  • Lessons: Watch Algebra, Equations, and Inequalities (first eight videos). Again, you do not have to watch all the videos, or even all of any one video. If something is familiar to you and it is boring to listen to, then don’t listen to it. Find those videos in which you are shaky on the concepts. That’s where you’ll get the best use of your time.
  • OG: Turn to Chapter 16 (Heart of Algebra) and answer the first 10 example questions. Try to solve the problem before skipping ahead.

Writing

  • eBook: Finish Sentence Structure
  • Questions: In Magoosh, complete two whole passages (two tasks will give you 20-22 questions total). Make sure to watch the explanation videos. This will help you learn from your mistakes and understand the test at a deeper level.

Reading

 

Day 5

Math

  • eBook: Re-read Ratio, Proportion, Units, and Percentage. Throughout the study schedule, you’ll revisit concepts from earlier in the week or in the previous weeks. That way you allow time for the principle to sink in, and the more you review these concepts throughout the weeks, the better you’ll become at them.

Writing

  • Day off

Reading

  • eBook: Read Intro (all the way up to “Pacing”)

 

Weekend

Use this first weekend to to catch up.

If you have extra time, do practice from the Magoosh product for any of the sections you want to work on. Though there are many concepts you haven’t learned, doing random mixed practice sets will help get you prepared for the test.

Still, make sure to watch the video explanations, since you’ll be able to learn a lot this way, too. That way, when you do encounter the concept later, you will already have some familiarity with it.

Also, begin one of the classics. This can even be one of the short stories by Edgar Allan Poe. Curl up next to a fireplace with a latte, or whatever your beverage of choice is, and enjoy. You should be patient with yourself since the writing style will be a bit unfamiliar at first. Keep a dictionary app handy.

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Week 2

Day 1

Math

  • Lessons: Watch Word Problems (first 6 videos)
  • eBook: Read Graphs, Tables, and Scatterplots up to end of “Histograms”
  • Questions: In Magoosh, complete 10 Word Problems practice questions. (Set to “easy” or “medium” by clicking “Practice” and adjusting the difficulty level.)

Writing

  • eBook: Read Conventions of Usage up to “Logical Comparison”
  • Questions: Do two Magoosh practice passages (22 questions total).

Reading

  • eBook: Read “Pacing” section and Passage Types

 

Day 2

Math

  • OG: Answer examples 6-12 in Chapter 17 (Problem Solving and Data Analysis). Remember, attempt to solve each question before looking at the answer. For the advanced among you, give yourself a two-minute limit per question. For the rest of us, relax, take a deep breath, and do your best.
  • Lessons: Statistics (all four videos. Do these only after answering the questions above.)

Writing

  • Lessons: Watch Sentence Structure (all videos)
  • Questions: Do two Magoosh practice passages (two tasks = about 22 questions total)

Reading

  • eBook: The Paired Passage up to Words in Context
  • Questions: Complete one Magoosh passage (1 task)

 

Day 3

Math

  • eBook: Read Additional Topics in Math
  • OG: Do examples 1-10 in Chapter 19 (Additional Topics in Math)

Writing

  • eBook: Finish Conventions of Usage
  • Lessons: Watch Usage (all five videos)
  • Questions: Do one Magoosh practice passage

Reading

 

Day 4

Math

  • Lessons: Based on your performance on examples 1–10 from Day 3, watch five to seven Geometry and/or Coordinate Geometry videos, depending on where you struggle the most.

Writing

  • Day off

Reading

 

Day 5

Math

  • Day off. Review areas from week 1 and 2 where you are struggling the most. If you have time, do 10 practice questions on Magoosh.

Writing

  • eBook: Read Conventions of Punctuation to “Nonrestrictive and Parenthetical Elements” section
  • Questions: Do one practice passage in Magoosh (11 questions)

Reading

  • Day off
  • Additional reading: Spend an hour reading a novel (this can spill into the weekend).

 

Weekend

OG: Take Practice Test #1, found in Part 4 of the Official Guide.

This is a major milestone. You’ve yet to see all the concepts you’ll be dealing with, but by now you should have a decent understanding of about half of the concepts you’ll see on the test. The practice test is really about getting ready for the ordeal that is a three-hour practice test.

Find a quiet place where you’ll be uninterrupted. I know it’ll require Herculean effort on your part to detach from your cell phone. But when you take the actual test that’s exactly what you’ll have to do, and it’s better to go through withdrawal symptoms now.

Also make sure to spend at least an hour or two reviewing your mistakes. When marking your test, do not write the correct answer next to the question, just mark it as wrong. That way you can take a second stab at it before reading the explanation.

Do some additional reading: Make sure to keep up on your 19th century novel in your spare time.

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Week 3

Day 1

Writing

  • eBook: Read from “Nonrestrictive and Parenthetical Elements” section to Expression of Ideas
  • Questions: Do one Magoosh practice passage (11 questions)

Reading

  • eBook: Read How to Improve on SAT Reading to the end of “Stop subvocalization”
  • Questions: Do one Magoosh practice passage (10-11 questions)

Math

  • Lessons: Watch Passport to Advanced Math: Trigonometry (first three lessons)

 

Day 2

Writing

  • eBook: Read up to Practice Passage
  • Lessons: Watch Punctuation (all four videos)
  • Questions: Do one Magoosh practice passage

Reading

  • eBook: Read up to Practice Passage
  • Questions: Do one Magoosh practice passage
  • Additional reading: Creation Myth

Math

  • Lessons: Watch Passport to Advanced Math: Trigonometry (next three lessons, up to “More on the Unit Circle”)

 

Day 3

Writing

  • eBook: Do “Sequoyah” practice passage

Reading

  • eBook: Do “Ethan Frome” practice passage

Math

Up until now, we’ve been mainly using Magoosh material for practice. For the rest of the test we will shift to mainly using official material. This material is closest to what you’ll see test day, so it will provide the best practice. The remaining study sessions will be formed from sections from the third and fourth test in the OG (The Official SAT Study Guide).

After doing these sets, always mark the questions you got wrong. Then spend a few minutes going through them. I should warn you that the explanations in the OG are often pretty terrible so try not to get too frustrated.

 

Day 4

Reading

  • OG: Set an alarm for 26 minutes and answer the first two passages of the Reading portion of Practice Test #2

Writing

  • OG: Set an alarm for 17 minutes and answer the first two passages of the Writing portion of Practice Test #2

Review Magoosh Reading and Writing lessons for any of the three sections based on where you feel you need practice. Watch at least two lessons total.

 

Day 5

Math

  • OG: Set an alarm for 55 minutes and complete that Math Test – Calculator portion of Practice Test #2.

Review Magoosh Math lessons for any of the three sections based on where you feel you need practice. Watch at least two lessons total.

 

Weekend
  • Take Practice Test #3 (this is your final one before the big test!). Follow the same instructions as you did for the first practice test.
  • Additional reading: Finish reading the 19th century novel.

 

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Week 4

Day 1

Reading

  • OG: Set an alarm for 26 minutes and answer the first two passages of the Reading portion of Practice Test #4.

Writing

  • OG: Set an alarm for 17 minutes and answer the first two passages of the Writing portion of Practice Test #4.

 

Day 2

Math

  • OG: Set an alarm for 25 minutes and complete that Math Test – No Calculator portion of Practice Test #4.

Change your sleep schedule. Indeed, you should figure out what time you need to go to bed so that you get at least eight hours of sleep before the actual exam (I recommend 10 p.m.). Starting Wednesday, go to bed at this time. That way your body will get used to falling asleep then. Otherwise, you are likely to toss and turn the night before the test.

Trust me: it is only for a few days.

Day 3

Math

  • OG: Complete Test #4, page 712, all 38 questions in one sitting!

Writing

  • Questions: Answer 3 Magoosh passages (3 tasks)

Reading

  • Questions: Answer 3 Magoosh passages (3 tasks)

 

Day 4

Math

  • Questions: Answer 20 Magoosh questions (with calculator)

 

Day 5

It’s up to you. You can take a break, review Magoosh lessons, or take another practice test. Do keep in mind that this is the day before the test and you might want to rest and relax as much as possible!

 

Weekend

Make sure to get a good night’s rest. The night before the test, start winding down early and pack everything you need (remember your registration ticket and photo ID!) so you aren’t scrambling in the morning.

 

Test Day
  • Stay hydrated!
  • Double check our SAT Test Day Checklist to make sure you have everything.
  • If doing a quick review in the morning helps wake up your brain, then go for it. But don’t feel you have to prep. If you followed this plan on how to study for the SAT in a month, you should be ready to go!
  • Stay positive!

 

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Questions? Comments? Leave them below and we’ll respond as soon as possible.
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About Lucas Fink

Lucas is the teacher behind Magoosh TOEFL. He’s been teaching TOEFL preparation and more general English since 2009, and the SAT since 2008. Between his time at Bard College and teaching abroad, he has studied Japanese, Czech, and Korean. None of them come in handy, nowadays.


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